Eco-terrorist Wiebo Ludwig has resurfaced in news again* in connection with the ElCana pipeline bombings back in 2008. I cringe as some media outlets continue to identify him as a minister in the Christian Reformed Church.** The truth is that Mr. Ludwig and I have never appeared in the same edition of the annual CRC ministers directory as he was deposed in the early 1980s after fewer years of service than I have already completed at Telkwa CRC.
I cringe for two reasons. Understandably, I take issue with Mr. Ludwig being today’s poster boy for the CRC, inaccurately being identified as a current colleague of mine in good standing in my extended church family.
But secondly, I cannot help but wonder whether I’d be willing to be deposed as a minister resulting from standing up for a conviction contrary to one espoused by the CRC. I certainly do not condone Mr. Ludwig’s eco-terrorism. I don’t even know whether Mr. Ludwig was deposed in the 1980s because of his position and activities regarding a particular issue over which he fought at the time like he is now fighting against gas and oil companies, or because of his penchant for divisive conflict in general as described by biographer Andrew Nikiforuk.
Nevertheless, I wonder what I’d be willing to sacrifice (ministerial ordination and credentials? reputation? job benefits and security? no criminal record?) to stand up for something in which I firmly believe. It’s a question over which my Anglican colleague and friend Rev. Paul Donison wrestled before relinquishing his priestly and diaconal license from the Anglican Church of Canada. So what on earth would the CRC as a denomination have to do for me to exit (either quietly or by actively opposing the leadership to the point I’m publically deposed)?
While I have often appreciated how those who depart to forge a new path (or repave an old path from which people have errantly departed) impel those who are left behind to honestly re-examine, own, and live their convictions, my personality and inclination would be to stick around come what may, struggling to balance submission to those in authority with speaking up for what I believe, hopefully in respectful and winsome ways. I pray that such a strategy will not make my fellow CRC pastors cringe if I am ever referred to as a colleague of theirs.
Wiebo Ludwig photo: CP (as it appeared in the Moose Jaw Times Herald)
* This article is co-written by Nathan vanderKlippe who was a member of Smithville CRC when I served as an intern student pastor there! Hi Nathan! =)
** The print version of the Prince George Citizen article did not include the word former. Perhaps a reader requested that this be clarified, as it now is in the online version?